Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for July, 2018

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN: WHY WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT THE CAMP

Posted by strattof on July 28, 2018

The Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp was set up on the Legislative lawn on February 28. A peaceful camp, it is, as its name suggests, concerned with the over-representation of Indigenous children in Saskatchewan’s child welfare system and of Indigenous youth in provincial prisons.

From the moment the Camp was established, the provincial government has wanted it gone. Government officials have offered a variety of reasons for the camp’s removal:

• Lawn maintenance.
• Space for the Canada Day beer garden.
• Safety concerns.
• Provincial bylaws prohibiting overnight camping, erecting structures, and wood burning.
• And, most recently, “numerous complaints” from the public.

Taken singly or even all together, are these good enough reasons for taking down a peaceful camp calling for “justice for our stolen children”?

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
Canadians are rightly outraged by Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their families. But where is our outrage at Canada’s own child-family separation policy? For well over a century, we have been separating Indigenous children from their families and we continue to do so today.

The Canadian state began stealing Indigenous children from their families and communities when it established the residential school system—a system that operated from 1876 to 1996. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded, in 2015, that residential schools constituted “cultural genocide.”

Next came the ‘60s Scoop, the abduction of Indigenous children by provincial child welfare services, starting in the late 1950s and persisting into the 1980s.

This genocidal policy of child abduction continues today. Today more Indigenous children are in state care in Saskatche-wan than at the height of the residential school system.

THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
According to 2018 Statistics Canada data, of the youths admitted into custody in Saskatchewan:

 92% of boys are Indigenous.
 96% of the girls are Indigenous.

Saskatchewan has the highest rate of Indigenous youth incarceration in the country.

WANTED: SYSTEMIC CHANGES
The over-representation of Indigenous children in Saskatchewan’s child welfare system and of Indigenous youth in provincial prisons are a direct result of systemic racism in our social services and justice systems. Systemic changes are required.

4 GOOD REASONS TO SUPPORT THE CAMP

1. CHARTER RIGHTS
The Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp is in violation of provincial bylaws prohibiting overnight camping, the erection of structures, and wood burning.

However, these bylaws are in conflict with rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression and of assembly. These rights protect citizens from the power of the state when seeking change through peaceful protest. They are fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society and must be defended.

2. THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE
We are all implicated in the systemic racism that continues to infect Saskatchewan institutions, including our social services and justice systems.

3. EDUCATIONAL SERVICE
The Camp is providing an extremely valuable service to our city and our province: educating us about the past and present injustices that define the relationship between settler Canadians and Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan.

4. BEAUTY & INSPIRATION
Approach the Camp from the Lake side and see all the tipis standing on the lawn, with the Legislative Building in the background. Or watch the CBC aerial video of the camp: http://www.facebook.com/cbcsask/videos/10155458218871782/?hc_ref=ARR7PWLaPN1PBnU2Xn4kWwtU661AlxFWD-YxTh5hwIphNsRqtY0BpnqEAVos53EQYqk

The beauty and rightness of the scene can lift our hearts and may even inspire us to redouble our efforts in the struggle for justice.

TAKE ACTION: JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN
1. Call Premier Scott Moe’s office and express your support for the Camp: 306-787-9433.

2. Sign the petition “Support Camp: Justice For Our Stolen Children”: http://www.change.org/p/support-of-camp-justice-for-our-stolen-children

3. Visit the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp in front of the Legislative Building and learn more about the ongoing struggle of Indigenous peoples against Canadian colonialism and for justice.

4. Follow the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/justiceforourstolenchildren/

5. Add the following two books to your summer reading list:
• The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land,
Rebuilding the Economy, by Arthur Manuel and Grand
Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
• Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada,
by Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker

Advertisements

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

TIPIS & CHAINSAWS: ONE LEGAL, THE OTHER ILLEGAL?

Posted by strattof on July 19, 2018

According to the Sask Party government: 

  • The destruction of 109 trees to make way for a new Conexus head office in Wascana Park is perfectly legal and will continue.
  • The tipis at the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp, in front of the Legislative Building, are illegal and must be removed.

Is the Sask Party government right?

  • What is the legal status of both Conexus and the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp in Wascana Park?
  • More importantly, where does each stand in relation to justice?

What do you think?

THE CONEXUS DEAL

THE LAW

Technically, Conexus is within the law in building its head office in Wascana Park, but that is only because all the parties involved engaged in some very crafty deal-making.

CONEXUS & THE UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

In June 2016, Conexus offered the University of Regina ‘up to $8.25 million’ for the U of R College Avenue campus Renewal Project, to be used to restore the old college buildings.

In return, Conexus got a 90-year lease on 2.6 acres of land in Wascana Park. It’s a very good deal for Conexus.

REGINA CITY COUNCIL

In August 2016, Regina City Council approved the Conexus deal, even though it violates the City’s Official Community Plan, which stipulates that major new office buildings must be built downtown.

WASCANA CENTRE AUTHORITY

In November 2016, Wascana Centre Authority approved the Conexus deal, even though it contradicts its own mandate.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT

In June 2017, the provincial government cancelled the Wascana Centre Act and placed Wascana Park under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Capital Commission, thus giving control of Regina’s Wascana Park to the provincial government.

THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE

The public was left out of the decision-making process. The public forums that were held were mere window-dressing. Wascana Park is a public park, paid for by generations of Regina citizens. It must not be taken over by corporate interests without our consent.

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

THE LAW

The Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp is in violation of Provincial Capital Commission bylaws prohibiting overnight camping, the erection of structures, and wood burning.

However, these bylaws are superseded by rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression and of assembly, especially as these rights apply to non-violent protests taking place in a public space, such as a park. 

THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE

Canadians are rightly outraged by Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their families. But where is our outrage at Canada’s child-family separation policy? For well over a century, we have been separating Indigenous children from their families and we continue to do so today.

STOLEN CHILDREN

  • The Canadian state began stealing Indigenous children from their families and communities when it established the residential school system.
  • Next came the 60s Scoop, the abduction of Indigenous children by provincial child welfare services.
  • This disastrous policy of child abduction continues today. Today, there are more Indigenous children in state care in Saskatchewan than at the height of the residential school system.

Here’s what Pam Palmater has to say about the removal of Indigenous children from their families and communities: ‘It’s simple. Just stop taking our children. If their parents need help, give it to them. Leave the children with their families and in their communities.’

TAKE ACTION

JUSTICE FOR OUR STOLEN CHILDREN

  1. Visit the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp in front of the Legislative Building and learn more about the ongoing struggle of Indigenous peoples against Canadian colonialism and for justice.
  2. Follow the Justice For Our Stolen Children Camp on facebook: facebook.com/justiceforourstolenchildren/

 

  1. Add the following two books to your summer reading list:
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by Arthur  Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  • Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada, by Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker

NO BUSINESS IN WASCANA PARK

  1. Sign both the petitions opposing commercial development in Wascana Park. Google the following: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/SK_govt_No_Business_in_Wascana_Pk/ https://www.change.org/p/eric-dillon-keep-wascana-park-public
  2. Let Premier Scott Moe know you do not want any commercial development in Wascana Park: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306- 787-9433. 
  3. Register your disapproval with Conexus CEO, Eric Dillon: Dillon@conexus.ca

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »

THROWING SASKATCHEWAN UNDER THE BUS

Posted by strattof on July 19, 2018

  • MAY 31, 2017: The Sask Party government shut down the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC), the province’s 71-year-old Crown Corporation, and began to sell off its assets.
  • JULY 9, 2018: Greyhound announced that, as of October 31, it is cancelling all its Prairie routes.

 When the Sask Party government axed STC, it said that private operators would replace STC services. This has not happened.

  • Of the 10 private companies that vied for STC routes, only two remain in operation today.
  • Of the 253 communities STC served, only 28 are being served by these private companies.

Since Greyhound announced it was closing its Prairie operations, some small companies have said they will take over the routes. If past experience is any indication, this is not likely to happen.

WHAT’S LEFT FOR BUS TRANSPORTATION IN SASKATCHEWAN?

WHO GOT STRANDED WHEN STC SHUT DOWN?

In 2015-16, STC carried 186,000 passengers. Here’s a shortlist of people who depended on STC and are now left without safe, reliable, and affordable transportation.

  1. PEOPLE WHO CAN’T AFFORD A CAR: 70% of STC riders were low-income.
  2. SENIORS: Many people give up driving as they get older. Seniors used STC to visit family and friends, to get to medical appointments, and to go shopping. 
  3. RURAL CANCER AND DIALYSIS PATIENTS: The number of rural residents missing medical appointments has increased over the last year. Some rural residents have been forced to move to the city to access medical services.
  4. PEOPLE WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS: STC buses were wheelchair accessible. The vehicles of the two private companies currently operating in Saskatchewan are not accessible. Now, people who use wheelchairs are, as a number of them have put it, “trapped in their communities.”
  5. INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS: The elimination of STC has put Indigenous women and girls particularly at risk. Hitch-hiking may be the only option for some locations. In BC, the absence of a northern bus service led to the Highway of Tears. An “urgent” recommendation of the 2017 report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was “more frequent and accessible transportation services.”
  6. POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS: Many post-secondary students used STC to get to Regina or Saskatoon for university and polytech classes.

4 MORE REASONS TO BRING BACK STC

  1. HIGHWAY SAFETY: Public transportation is 10 times safer than driving in Canada. STC had an excellent safety record and was known for the professionalism of its drivers.  
  2. THE ENVIRONMENT: STC was good for the environment. More cars on the highway mean more CO2 in the atmosphere. Saskatchewan has the highest per capita CO2 emission rate in Canada, three times the national average.
  • The Saskatchewan government should be investing more money in public transportation, not less.
  • We all should be using public transportation, rather than driving our private vehicles. 
  1. PUBLIC SERVICE: STC was an essential public service. Serving 253 communities in every corner of our vast province, it connected us: rural and urban, southern and northern, First Nations and settler communities.

Part of the government’s rationale for cancelling STC was that the company was not profitable, that it required a subsidy. All public services—healthcare, highways, education, city transit—are paid for outright or subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

Moreover, the STC subsidy was a bargain. In 2015-16, STC revenue covered 62% of its costs. By comparison, Regina Transit revenue only covered 28% of its costs.

  1. HUMAN RIGHT: Access to a bus is not a human right. However, equitable access to public infrastructure is. 

Saskatchewan’s 2018-19 budget allocates $924 million to spending on highways. Without STC, many people no longer have equitable access to this public infrastructure. In effect, the government is subsidizing private vehicle owners.

TAKE ACTION: BRING BACK STC

CONTACT POLITICAL LEADERS

  • Let Premier Scott Moe know that you want his government to bring back STC as a Crown Corporation providing transportation for all in our province: premier@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to the Minister of Crown Investments, Joe Hargrave: pacarltonmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-7339.
  • Send a message to Prime Minister Justice Trudeau: If his government can buy a pipeline, why can’t it buy a national bus service? trudeau@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-0253.

SIGN 2 PETITIONS

  1. https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/buses-for-saskatchewan-replace-the-greyhound 

 

  1. https://www.saskndp.ca/bring_back_stc?recruiterid=150750&utm_campaign=ryan_greyhound_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=saskndp

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STC CAMPAIGN

 

Posted in peace activism | Leave a Comment »